, Salem, MA

January 18, 2014

Letter: Brimbal Avenue project is not a smart development

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

First full disclosure — I have lived in North Beverly for most of the last 45 years, and during that time there have been numerous traffic studies conducted to support various developments and generally the conclusion has been “no significant impact with the project.” It’s safe to say that many view special interest traffic studies with some skepticism, which takes us to the latest “Brimbal Avenue Project.”

Let’s take a look at a one-square mile area that used to be North Beverly along Route 1A but is now a thrombosis extending to the Wenham line.

We have nine malls or plazas, whichever you choose to call them, four supermarkets — two Stop and Shops, a Shaw’s and Henry’s. By the way, they all sell prepared meals. Henry’s is considered superb. We really need another on Brimbal Avenue?

Other traffic generating entities are a high school, a middle school, two public elementary schools, a parochial school, a private commuter school, a hospital and a couple of kindergartens. Also, at the top of Sohier Road is the North Shore Consortium.

Let’s not forget a railroad station at each end of Brimbal Avenue. I don’t know the number of trains going through them on a daily basis, but a hundred is probably a good guess.

But this isn’t just about Brimbal Avenue. It’s about 20 or 30 other streets in the area that will be impacted by this additional traffic. In other words, a neighborhood. Councilor Don Martin said it quite well: “There are other ways to generate revenue without destroying neighborhoods.”

It does escape me how adding to traffic will help mitigate it. Sounds a bit like circular firing squad thinking.

Steven Cohen’s recent comments that a smaller project (without Whole Foods) will be going forward regardless of a no vote on the zoning changes sounds like a better idea. That was what many expected.

Beverly has had good examples of “smart development” in the last 20 or 30 years. This is not one of them.

Roger Morency